Land of Milk & Honey

February 25– May 28, 2023 

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum presents Land of Milk & Honey, a traveling multidisciplinary arts and culture program organized by the MexiCali Biennial. Focused on concepts of agriculture in the regions of California and Mexico and drawing inspiration from John Steinbeck’s portrayal of the region as a corrupted Eden, the exhibition questions ethical, cultural, and regional practices related to foodways and the venture from seed to table. The biblical reference of a “land of milk and honey” first became associated with California as a tool for promoting the state as a land of opportunity; a destination for those in search of a better way of life—a terra firma that would provide sustenance and abundance. This boosterism also served as an ethos that fueled “Manifest Destiny” and resulted in land grabs, ecological destruction, and social injustices. 

This exhibition, the second in the series, features artists’ views of multi-layered topics associated with agriculture including cultural relationships to food, associations with identity and place, and historical and political concerns.   

In conjunction with Land of Milk and Honey, a special corollary exhibition at The Cheech will showcase archival objects from the Institute of Culture and Esthetics/Instituto de Cultura y Estéticas (I.C.E.). This exhibition chronicles the histories of the MexiCali Biennial. 

The MexiCali Biennial is a non-profit contemporary visual arts organization that focuses on the area encompassing California and Mexico as a region of aesthetic production. The organization is migratory in nature and showcases exhibitions on both sides of the California/Mexico border. The MexiCali Biennial was originally started as a project critiquing the proliferation of international and regional art biennials and, as a result, may be shown at any time and at any location. First conceived in 2006 by artists Ed Gomez and Luis G. Hernandez, the inaugural round of programming took place at La Casa de la Tia Tina, an artist-run space on the border town of Mexicali, MX, before traveling to Chavez Studios in East Los Angeles. 

Land of Milk and Honey is organized by Ed Gomez, Luis G. Hernandez, Rosalía Romero, Enid Baxter Ryce, and April Lillard-Gomez. 

This project was made possible with support from the Mellon Foundation and the California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support provided by a 2022 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Sustaining Public Engagement Grant, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) initiative.